Photo courtesy of Breville, USA, Creative Commons license.
Photo courtesy of Breville, USA, Creative Commons license.

We talk to customers all the time that want to move to OpenStack, but the tools and processes they rely on just aren’t ready. Or the policies around their applications or data don’t support a true self-service cloud.

Not wanting to be stuck with VMware for the rest of their lives, we talk to them about what I call “cloud blending.”

Depending on what their tools and deployment processes look like today, some of the stateless, cloud-friendly components of their apps can be deployed to Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud, while leaving the scale-up or VMware-reliant (let’s call them “existing” instead of legacy), portions of their applications in the VMware environment.

An example might be to leave your SQL Server database in VMware, but move your web or content tier that’s going through a modern overhaul to a load-balanced, auto-scaling OpenStack environment–freeing up those costly VMware licenses for other purposes.

The response we often hear goes like this “Sure, but what about the processes I have in place to control my environment? Don’t those go away with OpenStack since everything is so self-service, where as today with VMware my teams control what happens?”

The answer is, as always, “It depends.”

You can lock down your Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud if you want so that only your cloud administrators have access to deploy resources and applications, the same way you might have your VMware environment restricted. That gives you a more scalable, more cost effective, and easier to manage “target” to deploy your apps, but isn’t helping your business roll out features to customers faster. You could also set up your Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud so that certain groups of developers working on “restricted” applications and data don’t have direct access to your private cloud and rely on the administrator teams to deploy. Then for other application teams that are building different apps and working with different data, (perhaps using more modern DevOps tools) they have the full self-service access they need to move fast, deploy fast, and scale fast.

By blending, you get the best of both worlds. You’re not picking one platform and throwing away the old one that some of your apps and processes rely on. You’re simply picking the best “target” and access model for your individual apps and dev teams.

Some of our customers are working with companies like Apprenda, that have a platform that runs on top of Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud, VMware, and others to manage the blended deployments for you if you aren’t ready to implement the tools or change the approval processes surrounding your apps and data. Apprenda is much more than just a deployment tool. It includes a policy management layer and a rules engine that will keep your compliance and QA/approval processes intact in a full cloud or blended deployment model.

You can restrict certain development teams or applications/data through the Apprenda model to enforce your policies and controls, but still give other teams direct access to the Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud APIs and dashboard so they can use modern DevOps tools to support other applications and projects. The direct model is best where speed of new features being released is more important to you than control and compliance. But again, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. You can decide on a per-team, per-app, or even per-environment (dev/test, QA, staging, prod) basis.

Apprenda is a commercial solution to the “blended” model, and provides a granular, yet easily automated control point between application development teams and your cloud or virtualization platforms. Keep the control and single pane of glass, and add modern deployment targets like OpenStack.

Many Cisco customers are already using platforms like Apprenda. Others have such unique policies and compliance needs to enforce that they’re building their own management tools in-house. And others are sticking with teams of human administrators that manually deploy and manage their legacy, cloud, and blended applications. Either way, “cloud blending” is very real, and having a fully managed private cloud that gives your development teams the public cloud experience inside your own data center has tremendous value as an option alongside your existing infrastructure models.

For more information on Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud, click here. Our teams are helping customers walk down this path every day and can share more information with you about the blended model that will work best for your situation.

Follow me on Twitter at @scottsanchez.